Without getting into the technical details, Bitcoin works on a vast public ledger, also called a blockchain, where all confirmed transactions are included as so-called ‘blocks.’ As each block enters the system, it is broadcast to the peer-to-peer computer network of users for validation. In this way, all users are aware of each transaction, which prevents stealing and double-spending, where someone spends the same currency twice. The process also helps blockchain users trust the system.
Developing digital identity standards is proving to be a highly complex process. Technical challenges aside, a universal online identity solution requires cooperation between private entities and government. Add to that the need to navigate legal systems in different countries and the problem becomes exponentially difficult. E-Commerce on the internet currently relies on the SSL certificate (the little green lock) for secure transactions on the web. Netki is a startup that aspires to create an SSL standard for the blockchain. Having recently announced a $3.5 million seed round, Netki expects a product launch in early 2017.
Peer to peer (P2P) electronic cash is simply described as online money sent from one person to another without the need for a trusted third-party. As described in the original Bitcoin whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto, P2P cash makes use of digital signatures as part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent fraud. This makes P2P cash a trustless and safe way to transact without the need of intermediaries.
Typically, consumers pay a bank to verify a transaction, a notary to sign a document, or a minister to perform a marriage. Blockchain eliminates the need for third-party verification and, with it, their associated costs. Business owners incur a small fee whenever they accept payments using credit cards, for example, because banks have to process those transactions. Bitcoin, on the other hand, does not have a central authority and has virtually no transaction fees.
The receiver of the first bitcoin transaction was cypherpunk Hal Finney, who created the first reusable proof-of-work system (RPOW) in 2004.[22] Finney downloaded the bitcoin software on its release date, and on 12 January 2009 received ten bitcoins from Nakamoto.[23][24] Other early cypherpunk supporters were creators of bitcoin predecessors: Wei Dai, creator of b-money, and Nick Szabo, creator of bit gold.[25] In 2010, the first known commercial transaction using bitcoin occurred when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz bought two Papa John's pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin.[26]
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